Celebrating the arts and academics in our schools

Last month, I was given the opportunity to participate in a series of Young People’s Concerts presented by the Minnesota Orchestra. They invited me to narrate a popular story, “Tubby the Tuba,” as they filled Orchestra Hall with the beautiful sound of music.

The story is about a tuba trying to find his place in the musical world of an orchestra. It was a wonderful way to weave reading and literacy into the arts, and I am so thankful that all of the third graders in the Minneapolis Public Schools were able to attend the concerts.

Maintaining arts programs in our schools is essential. We know that the arts engage our students and raise their achievement. The arts help students understand their own cultures while developing tolerance and respect for other cultures. We are incredibly proud of both the quantity and the quality of arts programs in our schools.

The students in MPS today are the individuals who will create art, build connections, develop our city’s architecture and landscape, redesign transportation systems, and enhance the strong community that we all share. We are proud that cities, school districts, and arts organizations across the nation value and support our work. They recognize what we know: In a rapidly changing world, creative communities are better positioned to invent new possibilities and solve complex problems.

We are committed to educating our children to imagine, adapt, invent and rethink the old ways. We’re building that creative capital in Minneapolis with our efforts to teach and learn through the arts across our curriculum.

This year, MPS will host the 17th annual citywide arts festival, Viva City, which showcases student achievement in visual and performing arts across the city — representing a culmination of months of classroom learning relative to arts education. And it happens to be right around the corner! Over 400 students will have the incredible experience of performing at Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota or sharing their visual art and poetry in a professional display exhibition at the Downtown Central Library as part of the festival.

I encourage families and community members to share in the celebration:

Viva City Visual Arts Exhibition: Downtown Central Library, Cargill Gallery

300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Middle school artwork on display February 3-27
High school artwork on display March 2-29

Viva City Performing Arts Concert March 14 at 7 pm, Ted Mann Concert Hall, University of Minnesota
2128 Fourth Street South, Minneapolis, MN 55455
The events are free and open to the public.

I want to express how important the support of our families, staff and community is to our children. Our students benefit when they are able to participate in the; the successes they experience in this area lead to continued successes in their own lives and in the life of our city.

Bernadeia H. Johnson is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.